Host Aaron Alejandro and Dr. Gordon Davis share core FFA values like teamwork and mentorship.
The National FFA Organization works to strengthen science and agricultural educational opportunities for students across the country. The Texas FFA Association and Texas FFA Foundation are the largest state organizations in the country.
On this episode of the Growing Our Future Podcast, Aaron Alejandro introduces Dr. Gordon Davis, Chairman of CEV Multimedia and longtime agricultural educator. After decades as an FFA member, coach, and professor, Davis saw a need–to bring technology into the agricultural sciences classroom–and founded what would become a multi-million-dollar company. His story will inspire listeners to go after what they love, and ask for help along the way.
When Dr. Gordon Davis, Chairman of CEV media, thinks about where his journey began, he thinks of an FFA chapter in Washington State. Davis’ older brother attended the national FFA convention in the 1960s, and Davis wanted to see for himself. His goal was to become a state officer so that he could attend the convention, and in order to achieve it he needed to take initiative: earning and managing money while supervising a project with dairy cows. Ultimately, Davis was able to attend the National FFA Convention in St. Louis that year. “I tell you, that just opened my eyes to the world,” Davis says. “I saw how big the country was.”
Davis didn’t stop there. He went on to university, and to become an agricultural educator, coaching many of the same teams he’d been a member of during his time as a student in FFA. At age 26, he decided he wanted to be “Financially independent.” Determined to open more doors, Davis received his PhD in Meat Science at Texas A & M University and began a long and successful career as faculty in various prestigious agricultural science programs across Texas.
Bringing Tech to the Classroom
Though Davis has always had what he calls an “entrepreneurial spirit”, Most of his business ventures happened alongside his teaching career–that is, until a “unique” style of teaching caught Davis’ attention. He recalls a lesson involving a hog and a video that helped him see agricultural education in a new light. The professor was “bringing the field into the classroom,” Davis says. Davis saw a need for this kind of experiential education. In 1990, he left academia to launch CEV Multimedia. In the beginning, the company brought VCRs and VHS tapes to classrooms. They had one employee and worked out of a small office. Still, Davis says “I never did look back. The question was…how big was this sucker gonna get?”
CEV Multimedia has grown exponentially. Alejandro attributes Davis early’ certainty to careful planning. “You’d better have a strategy,” Alejandro says, and Davis agrees. “Real winners prepare to win,” he says.
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“Get on the Team”
Recently, Davis and his wife gave an extraordinary gift to Texas Tech’s School of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (now called the Davis School of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources), a gift that will help many young people fulfill their dreams of working in agriculture. But beyond the gift, Alejandro says, it’s “the example” Davis has lived. Indeed, Davis again credits his success to his time in FFA. “I learned how to win,” he says. “One way to learn how to win is to get beat.” More importantly, Davis learned how to be a part of a team, a skill he passed along to many students over the course of his career.
Davis worked with a tight-knit team at CEV. “Everybody had a role,” he says. Furthermore, Davis maintains that winning is good for everyone on the team: whether you’re the star, the coach, the manager, or the alternate. A seasoned mentor himself, Davis encourages young people to seek out many mentors as they grow. “If you think somebody knows a lot of stuff that you don’t know, just walk right up to him and say, ‘do you mind if we have lunch?'”
“People will help you,” Davis says. “Just don’t hesitate to ask.”
The Texas FFA Foundation’s purpose is to strengthen agricultural education and the Texas FFA program, so each student can develop their potential for personal growth, career success and leadership in a global marketplace..
Learn more about the Texas FFA Foundation at mytexassffa.org.
Learn more about the CEV Multimedia at: icevonline.com.